May 31, 2005
LONG LIFE AND CREATIVITY: My TechCentralStation column for tomorrow looks at this subject — but as an InstaPundit PremiumTM subscriber, you can read it now. Is that a great deal, or what?
LONG LIFE AND CREATIVITY: My TechCentralStation column for tomorrow looks at this subject — but as an InstaPundit PremiumTM subscriber, you can read it now. Is that a great deal, or what?
TOM MAGUIRE offers a helping hand to Dan Okrent.
A MAJORITY OF AMERICANS SUPPORT SOCIAL SECURITY REFORM, according to a new poll. Two caveats: (1) it’s from Zogby; and (2) I suspect that most people’s feelings on this are fairly provisional at the moment. Nonetheless, it suggests that Bush’s proposals aren’t as unpopular as some have been saying.
JOHN O’SULLIVAN ON TURKEY AND THE E.U.
All three crises are extremely dangerous. Yet most European and Turkish politicians are sleepwalking into them behind the banner “There is no Plan B” — Plan A being Turkey’s EU admission. And Washington echoes the same slogan because it strongly supports the Turkish application.
In reality there is always a Plan B, even if the politicians avoid considering it until Plan A has collapsed. Under this particular Plan B, the United States would rescue Turkey and the EU from their joint crises while also advancing U.S. interests in transatlantic integration.
It would work as follows:
First, the EU and the United States (together with its partners in NAFTA) would merge their markets to form TAFTA — or a transatlantic free trade area.
Second, they would invite all the existing European countries not in the EU, including Turkey, Norway and Switzerland, to join this enlarged TAFTA. (Ukraine, Russia and Latin American countries outside NATFA would be eligible to join once they met criteria similar to those required for EU entry.)
Third, this TAFTA would establish joint procedures for harmonizing existing and new regulations between NAFTA, the EU and non-EU states,.
Fourth, free movement of labor would not be a provision in TAFTA, but there would be preferential immigration rules between members.
Laid out in this way, such a Plan B inevitably sounds utopian. Many of its individual features, however, have been widely discussed for years. Indeed, a full-scale EU-U.S. free trade area almost came about a decade ago.
At the time it was vetoed by the French. But Europeans might now see the value of a program for economic integration that does not involve free immigration — but that would offer Turkey a solid substitute for EU membership, mollify the Islamic world, and build an long-term economic bridge to Russia, North Africa, the Middle East and Latin America.
And in their currently shaken state, even the French might be prepared to accept American leadership out of the crisis — so, Condi, act quickly.
Read the whole thing.
BILL ROGGIO WONDERS WHY The New York Times is publishing anti-terror secrets.
MICHAEL TOTTEN is photoblogging from Oregon’s Empty Quarter.
TERRORISTS AT HOME?
NEW YORK May 31, 2005 — Two U.S. citizens accused of being al-Qaida loyalists were each ordered held without bail Tuesday as they appeared in federal courtrooms in New York and Florida. . . .
Prosecutors say the two men swore a formal oath of loyalty to al-Qaida as they conspired to use their skills in martial arts and medicine to aid international terrorism.
The men were arrested Friday following a sting operation that the government said started in 2003. If convicted, each could face a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
Good thing they weren’t pirating DVDs, or they’d really be in trouble.
SENATORS JOHN MCCAIN, LINDSEY GRAHAM, AND JOHN SUNUNU visited Uzbekistan last week and criticized the Karimov government’s record on democracy and human rights. The government refused to meet with them. Gateway Pundit has more, including pictures and video.
“DEEP THROAT” has been unmasked.
IN THE MAIL: A copy of Ben Shapiro’s book, Porn Generation : How Social Liberalism is Corrupting our Future.
While there’s no doubt that porn is much more widespread (amusingly, there’s a link to the “Paris Hilton collection” on Shapiro’s Amazon page), as I’ve noted before, there’s not much support for the idea that more-available porn (or pro-sex material generally) is doing any harm to America’s children.
DARFUR UPDATE: Lots of depressing news, here.
THIS WEEK’S GRAND ROUNDS is up, for all your healthcare-blogging needs.
UPDATE: More blog roundups:
The Carnival of Revolutions, featuring pro-democracy posts from around the world.
The Carnival of the Liberated, featuring Iraqi and Afghan bloggers.
WE THE (MEDIA) PEOPLE: I’ve got a piece on citizens’ media in the Wall Street Journal today. It’s subscriber-only, but this link should work for everyone.
Thanks to video games, TV shows and movies such as ”Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith” that are loaded with special effects, today’s children don’t have a realistic impression of space or space travel, says Buzz Aldrin, one of the men who planted the U.S. flag on the moon.
But, he adds, it’s not the kids’ fault. Those working in the fields of math, science and engineering — the people who were inspired by the accomplishments of Aldrin, Neil Armstrong and others during the space exploration boom of the 1960s and ’70s — haven’t reached out enough to capture the youngsters’ interest, he says.
Buzz and I were on the National Space Society board back in the 1990s, and I was very impressed with his commitment to this kind of thing.
Unlike France’s referendum, which was binding on the government, the Dutch vote is advisory. Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende’s governing party said Monday it will accept a “no” verdict only if turnout reaches at least 30 percent and if 55 percent of those who vote reject the charter.
As Steven Den Beste noted, these votes are serving a valuable educational purpose as they reveal what the EU is all about. (Via PoliPundit).
IT’S NOT EASY BEING A TORY AT THE BBC: Though I don’t think it’s easy being a Tory anywhere these days.
I WISH THEY’D JUST MAKE SURE THEY CAN DO MATH:
Brooklyn College’s School of Education has begun to base evaluations of aspiring teachers in part on their commitment to social justice, raising fears that the college is screening students for their political views.
SYLVAIN CHARAT looks at the aftermath of France’s E.U. referendum:
Immediately after the vote, European Commission President José Barroso acknowledged this was a serious problem for the Constitution. The UK now wonders whether it should even both to hold its own referendum. The Netherlands is bolstered in its intention to vote No. Poland is puzzled by such a result, especially when the French vilified so much the “Polish Plumber”, a character created to frighten French workers and make them believe the Constitution would open the doors to foreigners who would take their jobs. The Czech Republic can now be more opposed to the treaty. And Italy is wondering if it was too hasty in ratifying it.
Aside from this immediate reaction, a political trend has strengthened. The French referendum was not only about the European Constitutional Treaty, nor Europe itself. It was just a pretence to confirm a widespread feeling in the French political class, to spread fear among workers, to provide a life insurance policy for a close-to-bankruptcy welfare state. It was a referendum about the kind of society France wants. That is why the outcome was already known to most of us: It was No to free trade, and Yes to a collectivist society.
That doesn’t sound promising.
UPDATE: Greg Djerejian has much more, and predicts a political crisis in Europe:
The ultimate answer, at the risk of sounding too simplistic, is that not enough French people believe in a Greater Europe deep in their bones. Great leaders might have persuaded them through honesty and passion and charisma, but such leaders were manifestly not present. Now an era of confusion and flux looms for Europe. It is not a happy result, perhaps. But it is the reality that must be forcibly understood by European leaders if they can hope to turn around this debacle. If instead they insist on saying: “these were but French domestic troubles”, “the show goes on after a spot of reflection”, “it was but a plebescite on Jacques” and so on–it will mean yet again that no one is fundamentally addressing the basic issues that must be confronted head on.
I know which way to bet, based on recent performance. Meanwhile, The Belmont Club notes that it takes a theory to beat a theory, and, weak as the pro-EU arguments are, opponents will have to come up with an approach of their own.
And EurSoc rounds up winners and losers.
A CONSTRUCTIVE WAY TO OBSERVE MEMORIAL DAY, courtesy of ChicagoBoyz.
WIRED has an article on Iranian blogmeister Hossein Derakshan.
MILITARY BLOGGERS ON MSNBC: Ian Schwartz has the video.
IN THE MAIL: Thomas Sowell’s Black Rednecks and White Liberals, which purports to explain black failure as a consequence of absorbing poor cultural values from “white trash,” in the form of Scots-Irish rednecks. As Sowell writes in this distillation of the book’s thesis:
The culture of the people who were called “rednecks” and “crackers” before they ever got on the boats to cross the Atlantic was a culture that produced far lower levels of intellectual and economic achievement, as well as far higher levels of violence and sexual promiscuity. That culture had its own way of talking, not only in the pronunciation of particular words but also in a loud, dramatic style of oratory with vivid imagery, repetitive phrases and repetitive cadences.
Actually, as someone who keeps noticing interesting overlaps between the culture of my Nigerian relatives and my white southern ancestors, I think the cross-fertilization went both ways. And I’d be interested to hear what James Webb thinks about Sowell’s thesis.
UPDATE: Reader John Richardson emails:
I read Webb’s Born Fightin, as I am from East Tennessee Scots Irish stock (Bulls Gap). Isn’t is more than a little bigoted to call the Scots Irish ‘White Trash’? Such epithets are forbidden about other ethnic groups. And while I will admit Scots Irish setelers may have had their prejudices, few were slave holders. I read Sowells summary of the book at opinionjournal, but did not see his point. Today’s Scots Irish descendents do not have the overwhelming social problems Sowell so eloquently writes about in his columns.
I believe that Scots-Irish weren’t very well-represented among slaveholders, either, who were mostly wealthier. On the other hand, reader Russ McSwain emails:
As I read Dr. Sowell’s book my reaction was the same as your initial observation. There’s no doubt that Sowell’s right, but the cultural cross-fertilization cuts both ways. I can’t find again it but somewhere in his writings VS Naipaul, when asked about his impressions of the American South, responded with: “It has the same smells as a typical West African village.” Can you say Barbeque?
INTERESTING POLL RESULTS:
A recent “Opinion Survey of the Arab Street 2005” by Al Arabiya news network provides some interesting answers. The survey sought to see what Arabs thought about the relative lack of economic progress in the Arab world. In answer to the question, “What is stalling development in the Arab world?,” 81 percent chose “Governments are unwilling to implement change and reform”, 8 percent citing “The ongoing Arab-Israeli conflict,” 7 percent “Civil society is failing to convince governments”, and 4 percent chose “Terrorism”.
Another question, “What is the fastest way to achieve development in the Arab world?”, had 67 percent choosing “Ensuring the rule of law through justice and law enforcement”, 23 percent chose “Enhancing freedom of speech”, and 10 percent chose “Resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict”.
Islamic terrorists represent a small minority of Arab thinking, and interests. But most Arab media and governments, for obvious reasons, avoid the “bad government” issues and instead concentrate on the Arab-Israeli conflict as the cause of all that is bad in the Arab world. While few Arab governments support all Islamic terrorists, many support some (like the Palestinian terrorists, or Hizbollah in Lebanon).
Read the whole thing.
DON’T MISS THE MEMORIAL DAY ROUNDUP at Winds of Change, featuring links to other Memorial Day posts, ways to help the troops, etc.
MICHEL HOUELLEBECQ on the French vote. Though Matt Welch offers his own explanation, involving a midget with pasties, for the outcome.
UPDATE: Read this column from David Ignatius, too, who stresses the fear of change I noted earlier. The overlong and overcomplicatd EU Constitution, of course, encouraged a “no” vote from skeptical voters.
MORE: Steven Den Beste comments on the fallout:
What I like is the way the pro-EU advocates are starting to show their true anti-democratic colors during this process. It’s making blatantly obvious what I concluded long ago: the constitution of the EU is intended to set up a benevolent dictatorship by the progressive (read “socialist”) elite of Europe.
It is, I think, an effort to restore the sort of transnational aristocracy that ran Europe before World War I, though with a somewhat different flavor.
UPDATE: Reader Kjell Hagen emails:
I have a great deal of respect for Steven den Beste´s analyses. However, I think this is over the top. The EU will be ruled by some mix of elected national governments compromising (as now), or by an elected, European assembly, with still a great deal of power in the hands of the national governments. Not totally unlike the US, actually, only with more power to the national governments than currently with the US states. I don´t really see how this is going to be a dictatorship. And as for the socialists, they are the minority
in the EU parliament.
(Also in the US, there are tendencies of centralization of power, as you have pointed out, and under a Republican president, no less.)
I agree that the constitution is bureaucratic, unnecessary and mostly a product of French elitist ambitions. However, even if they succeeded in making the EU into a superstate, it would be a similar structure as the US, hardly a dictatorship.
Another matter is that they won´t succeed. Even their own nation rejects this. Even most socialists reject this. The possible strategy of having referendums again and again until people vote for the constitution, won´t work. People vote independently, as we have seen now. It is much more likely to backfire on the political leaders trying it. And when it does, they will stop trying, in the interest
of not losing personal power.
Well, that certainly trumps. I think, however, that Hagen means something different than Den Beste when he talks about socialists. By American standards, pretty much all European politicians are socialists.
ARLEN SPECTER AND SAM BROWNBACK on Stem Cell research — Crooks&Liars has video from This Week.
Meanwhile, Trey Jackson has video of Jim Pinkerton talking about Linda Foley as part of a media vs. the military segment on Fox News Watch.
UPDATE: Joe Gandelman watched the Brownback/Specter video and wonders if the stem cell issue isn’t the point of no return for the GOP. “What strikes us is how Brownback tries to change the subject away from the living, away from stem cell research’s potential to save lives. And all of this being done a[long]side a ghostly Arlen Specter — failing before our very eyes.”
ANOTHER UPDATE: Justin Katz disagrees.
Lebanon’s anti-Syrian alliance has swept the board in the first round of general elections, officials say. Amidst a low turnout, the coalition headed by the son of murdered former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri took all 19 seats in the capital Beirut.
Pro-Syrian Shia groups are tipped to fare better in next Sunday’s second round of voting in the south. But the country-wide result is expected to see a big parliamentary majority for Syria’s opponents.
(Via Newsbeat 1).
UPDATE: Here’s video of Saab Harriri talking about the election results.
TODAY IS A HOLIDAY, but that hasn’t stopped the Carnival of the Capitalists.
RED-STATE/BLUE-STATE FRANCE: An interesting map.
HERE’S A POST ON TORTURE AND PRISONER ABUSE that, unlike some, is both non-hysterical and well-documented. I highly recommend that you read it.
French voters were said tonight to have resoundingly rejected the EU Constitution, sending a defiant message to France’s political establishment and dealing a blow to plans for further European integration.
As polls closed around the country, the three major French polling organisations all reported a “no” vote of around 55-56 per cent, in line with opinion polls before today’s vote.
The rejection of the treaty, drafted by a panel headed by Valery Giscard d’Estaing, the former French president, leaves the Constitution effectively dead in the water and the 25-nation European Union in crisis. It also means that Tony Blair may no longer need to argue the case for a Constitution in a UK referendum that had been due next year.
“It’s a massive ‘no’, a heavy rejection of the Constitution and a huge humiliation for President Chirac,” said Charles Bremner, Times correspondent in Paris. “It’s also a huge repudiation of the political establishment – all the major parties were in favour of this document.”
It’s possible that this is a mere bump in the road, although it’s a big one. On the other hand, it’s possible that this is the beginning of a significant political shift in Europe, which I suspect will be a good thing if it happens.
Certainly some folks are battening down the hatches.
UPDATE: Perhaps this response: “Your votes say no no no, but your better classes say yes, yes, yes!”
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Jonathan Smith emails: “I have yet to see an american blogger that has recognized that a lot of people that voted Non want France to be a MORE socialist state. It’s a fear that the EU will be more capitalist.”
Well, that’s been a theme of a lot of the coverage I’ve linked to, and it certainly seems to be true. In fact, though I can’t find a working link to the story now, I seem to recall that French free-market activist Sabine Herold supported the EU because she thought that only an external institution could break the power of the French unions.
As for the defeat on two grounds, it seems an obvious consequence of the EU’s general strategy of obfuscation — this works well in a bureaucratic environment, but in the context of referenda, where people tend to vote their fears more than their hopes, it’s been self-defeating. Transparency tends to work better under such circumstances, and transparency has not been the Eurocrats’ forte.
And some people are paying the price:
PARIS – French voters rejected the European Union’s first constitution Sunday, President Jacques Chirac said — a stinging repudiation of his leadership and the ambitious, decades-long effort to further unite the continent.
Ouch. Meanwhile, Daniel Drezner has thoughts — presciently ahead of the vote — on the consequences of a French no.
MORE: Over at ChicagoBoyz, these comments:
This is almost as good as the purple fingers in Iraq. It is a step in the right direction. . . .
The fact that anti-Americanism drove much of the vote doesn’t bother me at all. I don’t want people to like us nearly as much as I want them to be able to govern themselves the way they see fit, have real elections with real consequences, and get the benefits and bear the consequences of those decisions. If the French don’t want capitalisme sauvage or anglo-saxonisme or hyper-liberalisme, OK by me. They are free to have as much socialism as they can get away with.
Indeed. Greg Djerejian has more thoughts, including these:
And it’s certainly not a great day for Jacques Chirac, is it? One might say that he’s now completely damaged goods. Pity. Meantime, let’s now keep an even closer eye on Sarkozy as ’07 looms. Truth be told, it’s silly and sophomoric to emptily cheer-lead this historical repudiation of the EU constitution solely because it’s such tremendously poor news for Jacques. . . .
There will doubtless be yet another referendum a few years hence on the issue. Giscard d’Estaing, for instance, is already on the record stating there will have to be a re-vote going forward. But this is a tremendous setback indeed to the entire process of European integration, of course, and it also showcases a massive failure of leadership by the Chirac Administration. They simply were not able to convince their country on the merits of their vision of Europe’s future. And carping on about “multipolarity” and the big, bad Anglo-Saxon meanies didn’t do the trick, it seems.
Interesting times ahead for French politics. Read this post by Djerejian, too, for some additional background.
MORE STILL: Mark Steyn joins the list of skeptics who doubt that the Euro-establishment will give up:
So, a couple of days before the first referendum, Jean-Claude Juncker, the “president” of the European Union, let French and Dutch voters know how much he values their opinion:
“If at the end of the ratification process, we do not manage to solve the problems, the countries that would have said No, would have to ask themselves the question again,” “President” Juncker told the Belgian newspaper Le Soir.
Got that? You have the right to vote, but only if you give the answer your rulers want you to give. But don’t worry, if you don’t, we’ll treat you like a particularly backward nursery school and keep asking the question until you get the answer right.
A pretty safe bet. On the other hand, The New York Times calls this a “crushing defeat” for the E.U. Constitution. We’ll see. I suspect that a lot depends on whether the politicians who pushed it have a political future, or get hammered. In the meantime, I note that both Chirac and Schroeder have tried to prop up their political fortunes by playing the anti-Americanism card, and both have found that gambit insufficient to the task.
David Carr, meanwhile, is offering heartfelt thanks to the responsible parties. And Jeff Jarvis observes: “It’s about trying to turn Europe in to a faux nation. It’s about protectionism. It’s about Europe thinking it is a world player when it is no longer. And it’s about a bad constitution that made up for in bureaucracy what it lacked in vision.”
AND EVEN MORE: Austin Bay observes:
It’s clear that a disgruntled and discombobulated French electorate expressed various types of outrage and enrage (an odd construction but given France’s constant straddling act, strikes me as appropirate). However, if the Communist Redshirts and Le Pen’s fascist Brownshirts are politically determinative in France –and that’s an argument one can make based on this plebiscite– then let’s recognize France as the politically sick society it truly is. If “sick” is a push word and too therapeutic for the pragmatic set, then call it the “lost” society. In some ways the news that the Cold War really is over has finally reached Paris.
He has some thoughts on what ought to come next, too:
So let’s offer NAFTA membership to Holland and the United Kingdom. If you’re Dutch or British, why be stuck in the floundering lost cause of a Franco-centric Greater Europe? We’ll call it the North Atlantic Free Trade Association. Heck, we don’t even have to change the acronym.
Read the whole thing. And read this column by George Will, too.
FINALLY, I think that this comment is really the last word:
The French people decided to look out for their own individual financial interests and also to demonstrate their independence of other countries. How can Chirac be suprised when this is exactly what led him to oppose the U.S. attempt to enforce UN resolutions on Iraq? People criticize Chirac’s leadership on the issue of the referendum but actually the French are following his lead precisely.
RICK LEE has posted some very cool photos.
THE FRENCH ARE VOTING ON THE E.U. TODAY, but we won’t know the results until all the polls have closed. Right now the No vote seems to be ahead:
On Thursday (26 May) the No was still ahead (55 per cent), according to an Ipsos poll, with 66 per cent of the people saying their choice is definitive.
Only 23 per cent predicted a Yes victory, compared to 49 per cent saying they thought the No would win.
And on Friday, an Ifop poll put the No camp at 56 per cent, whereas a TNS Sofres poll put it at 51 per cent.
There are a lot of undecideds, though.
UPDATE: More background, here.
SYRIA IS CRACKING DOWN ON DISSIDENTS: Gateway Pundit has a roundup.
“AMERICAN TWATS:” Another stellar episode for the BBC.
WATCH OUT, GEARBOX: It’s another episode of The Carnival of Cars.
PUBLIUS HAS MORE on the elections in Lebanon.
BEATINGS AT GUANTANAMO: An eyewitness report.
PAJAMAS MEDIA QUESTION NUMBER TWO: How can we be an online Joe Friday?
ELECTIONS IN LEBANON: Publius has a roundup. “Undoubtedly, Lebanon will never be the same after March’s Cedar Revolution, but that won’t stop the country’s professional politicians from pulling as many strings as possible to stay in power.”
HERE’S AN IMAGE, from Kaus: “If Johnny Apple and Andrew Sullivan had a love child, he might find this editorial highly persuasive.”
THIS WEEK’S CARNIVAL OF THE RECIPES IS UP!
JOURNALIST AND NEWSPAPER GUILD MEMBER HIAWATHA BRAY is challenging Linda Foley to back up her Eason-Jordan-like statements, or to apologize:
Since then, you have failed to provide supporting evidence for your remarks, but neither have you retracted them. I spoke with you at 11:10 AM today by telephone; union secretary-treasurer Bernard Lunzer was also on the call.
When I told you that I would publish your response to me on the Internet, you declined further comment–except for the following: “I am not going to discuss this with you on the eve of Memorial Day weekend.”
This remark strikes me as extremely odd. I can’t think of a better time to redeem the honor of the US military by beginning a serious investigation of outrageous conduct on its part. If our soldiers are deliberately killing journalists, it’s our duty to publicize it, so that such a terrible stain on our nation’s integrity may be quickly cleansed.
If, as I believe, your charge is false, I can think of no better time to retract this slander.
Read the whole thing.
ON TRAVEL: Back later.
PAJAMAS MEDIA QUESTION NUMBER ONE: What does it mean to be “fair and balanced?”
FRENCH LEADERS SURRENDER:
THE leader of France’s ruling party has privately admitted that Sunday’s referendum on the European constitution will result in a “no” vote, throwing Europe into turmoil.
“The thing is lost,” Nicolas Sarkozy told French ministers during an ill-tempered meeting.
THE DOG THAT DIDN’T BARK: Thomas Lipscomb notes another buried story in an Editor & Publisher column. “After all, Sherlock Holmes’s dog didn’t bark because he was good friends with the thief.”
ANOTHER BLOGGER BOOK: Being Good, by Todd Anderson, who also publishes Popshot Magazine.
Some parts remind me of my own life, back when I was a single twentysomething guy.
FORMER INSTAPUNDIT CORRESPONDENT Major John Tammes has started a new group blog with some of his friends. High point: “Say, it has now been 2 months and 6 days since anyone shot at me! I think a glass of port is in order.”
IT’S AS IF THEY’RE NEWSWEEK’S CORPORATE SIBLINGS OR SOMETHING:
In this morning’s coverage of Koran abuse allegations at Gitmo, the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Boston Globe, Reuters, and Associated Press all mention in their lead paragraph that the Pentagon found no credible evidence that a guard flushed the Koran down a toilet. The Washington Post, on the other hand, does not bother to mention the Koran-flushing incident until its fourth paragraph and does not note until the thirteenth paragraph that the detainee who made that allegation has retracted it.
Tom Maguire, meanwhile, notes another omission that seems rather striking.
FUTUREBLOGGING: This week’s Carnival of Tomorrow is up, with an Ed Wood theme.
TIGERHAWK notes interesting developments regarding Syria.
NEAL BOORTZ is considering a career as a screenwriter.
53% OF AMERICANS say they’re likely to vote for Hillary Clinton in 2008?
Well, if she wins, I hope she lives up to her billing as “the most uncompromising wartime president in the history of the United States.”
More evidence of Hillary’s growing influence here.
ETHIOPIAN ELECTIONS UPDATE: The E.U. observers are very critical:
Ethiopia’s electoral board appears to have lost control of the vote counting for the May 15 legislative polls, European Union election observers said in a report obtained by The Associated Press on Wednesday.
The confidential report went on to say the EU might have to make a public denunciation of developments to distance itself from “the lack of transparency, and assumed rigging” of the vote
“Ten days after the polling day, the situation is of political uncertainty and informational chaos regarding the results of the election,” according to the confidential report.
What’s more, Jimmy Carter made the problem worse:
The EU report also said former U.S. President Carter, who led a team of 50 election observers, undermined the electoral process and EU criticism with “his premature blessing of the elections and early positive assessment of the results.”
Unless there is a “drastic reverse toward good democratic practice” the observer team and EU “will have to publicly denounce the situation.”
“Otherwise, the EU jointly with ex-President Carter will be held largely responsible for the lack of transparency, and assumed rigging, of the elections.”
It’s Venezuela all over again for Jimmy, apparently. Meanwhile, several thousand Ethiopian-Americans protested the elections, at the State Department.
YOU CAN LEARN A LOT SOMETIMES from reading people’s websites.
BILL HOBBS has the indictments in the Tennessee legislative corruption cases.
JOE GANDELMAN says it’s not nice to make fun of Arlen Specter’s cancer.
GREG DJEREJIAN says there’s nothing to the Bolton NSA intercept story.
WILL PAJAMA-CLAD INTERNET ACTIVISTS BRING DOWN THE E.U.?
In cyberspace, a whole range of opinions – individual or on behalf of trade unions and anti-globalists group such as ATTAC – can be freely accessed, while “No” campaigners appear much more at ease with the Internet than the traditional party campaigners.
With an estimated 24 million internet users in France (out of a population of 60 million), it is an increasingly powerful tool.
Stanislas Magniant, at Publicis Consultants Net Intelligenz told one newspaper that in this campaign, France was seeing the beginning of real grass-roots militancy on the Internet.
HUGH HEWITT INTERVIEWED DANA MILBANK of The Washington Post. The transcript is posted here.
KURTZ CORRECTION: Note the email from Howard Kurtz, below.
SOME UNDERREPORTED GOOD NEWS from Africa.
THE BELMONT CLUB has moved to a backup location in response to more problems at Blogger.
Wherever you go, there you are. But at least in Arizona, you’re warmer, and CRIMINEY JUDAS I’m tired of being cold all the time.
Thus speaks a true Minnesotan. It’s unseasonably cool here, too. But that means 70 degrees.
A PACK, NOT A HERD:
For more than four years – steadily, seriously, and with the unsentimental rigor for which we love them – civil engineers have been studying the destruction of the World Trade Center towers, sifting the tragedy for its lessons. And it turns out that one of the lessons is: Disobey authority. In a connected world, ordinary people often have access to better information than officials do.
DAVE PRICE is saying I told you so.
AVIAN FLU UPDATE: Nature has a special issue devoted to the subject. Interestingly, they’ve chosen to dramatize it with a fictional weblog ostensibly authored by a journalist in the thick of next year’s epidemic. That’s a testament to blogs’ ability to capture news with immediacy and drama, I guess. (Via Effect Measure).
AN FBI STING OPERATION has resulted in the arrest of several Tennessee legislators. Bill Hobbs has a roundup.
HARRY’S PLACE worries that we’re backsliding on democracy in Egypt.
LAURENCE SIMON: “Today, I learned that I am some kind of illegal Mexican narcoterrorist gunrunner.” Well, yeah.
WHAT’S GOING ON WITH ZARQAWI? Austin Bay offers one theory:
Has Zarqawi been wounded or is he dead? Or is he being “withdrawn from the combat zone?” I raise these questions because at this point in time Zarqawi may be more valuable to Al Qaeda as a “mythic warrior” or “ghost.” It’s tough to kill a myth and darned hard to kill a ghost. Here’s the argument: Zarqawi’s damaged goods, physically and politically. From Al Qaeda’s point of view, and possibly Saddam’s henchmen, it’s time to get Z-Man out of Iraq, and then have Al-Jazeera and Newsweek turn him into Robin Hood.
Meanwhile, here’s a report that Zarqawi has been replaced, though it’s not clear what’s really going on.
GWYN PRINS WRITES:
For the first time, fear really stalks the Rue de la Loi in Brussels, headquarters of the European Commission. It is visceral. We know this because of the increasingly hysterical register of the messages in which the commissioners are sending French and Dutch voters preparing (in their referenda on 29 May and 1 June respectively) to vote down the treaty establishing a federal constitution. If you do so, the European Union nomenklatura is saying, you will bring to Europe economic disaster, a return to internecine war or (most tastelessly and least forgivably) another Holocaust. It is ridiculous hyperbole and therefore all the more demanding of explanation. How did it come to this?
Read the whole thing for some suggestions.
HOWARD KURTZ THINKS THAT NEWSWEEK HAS BEEN VINDICATED, but it’s not clear to me why that is:
Just to review: Newsweek made a specific error, saying this would be in a forthcoming military investigative report, and had to apologize and retract. But that never meant there was no Koran desecration–in fact, The Post reported such a charge in 2003 (as did other outlets later), but the charges were always attributed to detainees. Even these documents (which I’ll bet were seen by Isikoff’s source) atrribute the allegations to detainees. But that casts the outraged White House and Pentagon reaction in a slightly different light, doesn’t it?
(Emphasis in original.) If you read the story that Kurtz references, though, it also says that investigators found no basis to the allegations. It seems to me that Newsweek’s report — that government investigation did support the claims — was rather different, and that this constitutes something rather short of vindication.
UPDATE: Joe Gandelman has a survey of the issue, and agrees that this doesn’t get Newsweek off the hook, even though it’s being spun that way.
This report from the New York Times would seem to make that clear:
The accusation that soldiers had put a Koran in a toilet, which has been made by former and current inmates over the past two years, stirred violence this month that killed at least 17 people in Muslim countries after Newsweek magazine reported that a military investigation was expected to confirm that the incident had in fact occurred.
Newsweek retracted the report last week, saying it had relied on an American government official who had incomplete knowledge of the situation.
None of the documents released Wednesday indicate any such confirmation that the incident took place.
(Emph. added). I think that Newsweek’s defenders would be wise not to make too much of this.
MORE: A reader notes a bit of goalpost-moving:
In a recent post, you quoted the NYT as writing this in a report:
“The accusation that soldiers had put a Koran in a toilet, …”
Notice how it is now ‘put a Koran in a toilet’. No longer is the phrasing ‘flush a Koran down the toilet’. A subtle, yet important change. This version is _plausible_. And easier to get someone to substantiate (or at least say “well, I can’t say that it didn’t happen”).
As Martin Peretz said, they’ve circled the wagons on this one.
KURTZ-CORRECTION UPDATE: Howard Kurtz emails:
I absolutely don’t believe Newsweek has been vindicated, and if you got that impression, I must have been unclear. Newsweek made a bad mistake.
Here is what I’m writing for tomorrow:
“I don’t contend that these FBI papers, unearthed in an ACLU lawsuit,
get Newsweek off the hook. But you’d think they would be getting more
“Let’s parse the wording. Newsweek erred by saying in its ill-fated Periscope item that a forthcoming military investigative report would cite an allegation of the Koran being flushed down a toilet at Guantanamo. That was wrong, and Newsweek’s anonymous source backed off. The FBI documents don’t prove that these Koran incidents took place–indeed, it may be impossible to prove one way or the other.”
I did get that impression, but I’m glad that I was wrong.
Meanwhile, Tom Maguire has a useful roundup of this much-ado-about-not-much story.
MORE: Bill Quick adds some historical perspective that does a better job of explaining why I misunderstood Howard than I did.
MAX BOOT: “At a time when the Army and Marine Corps are struggling to fill their ranks, many conservatives are determined to limit the ability of women and gays to contribute to the war effort. Are they more concerned with winning culture wars at home or winning the war on terrorism abroad?”
JAY ROSEN HAS THREE QUESTONS FOR KEVIN DRUM:
Is the press, properly understood, a political animal?
If so, what kind of politics should it have?
How do we know if the press has got the politics part right?
Jay also asks for opinions from others, including me. I don’t usually blog on request, but this is interesting.
I think that the press is unavoidably political. What has bothered people (and what gets Kevin heated up about “the right wing press destruction machine”) is that until recently the politics were pretty uniformly left-leaning, to the point that the press became a well-defined political player on its own. Not for nothing does Howard Feinman write about the “Media Party.” Now that’s changing (this is the part that has Kevin heated up) and things that used to go unchallenged and unremarked are now challenged and remarked upon. This makes things seem more politicized, but what’s really changed is that people are talking about the politics, where before they were implicit.
What kind of politics should it have? Non-monolithic, and transparent. If, as First Amendment theory suggests, the marketplace of ideas is a check on the political power of an unelected press, then we need diversity of perspective and a willingness of press organs to criticize each others’ reporting.
How do we know when the press has it right? When we’ve got news organs representing a diversity of perspectives. We’re making progress in that direction, but we’re a long way from getting there.
UPDATE: Ernest Miller: “No one asked me, but I’ll go ahead and give my answers anyway.”
EUGENE VOLOKH WRITES on the political uses of loving one’s country.
GOOD QUESTION: “Is there an Italian law against defaming America?”
I MUST CONFESS that I’ve never thought of George Voinovich as a metrosexual.
KAUS ON COCCOONING:
Who else but reinforcement-craving Democrats would pay $49.95 a year to read Paul Krugman? … The Times, of course, is supposed to be the un-Balkanized, common-ground information outlet, so its shift toward a caterpillar strategy should be the cause of much more respectable hand-wringing than, say, the emergence of ideologically targeted sites like Lucianne.com and RealClearPolitics … Also, Lucianne and RCP actually do a much better job of forcing their readers to confront what they don’t want to see than the Times does.
UPDATE: Related thoughts here:
What’s peculiar about the economics of news-and-views is that, by raising the price, the Times will not merely reduce demand for their product, they’ll reduce its value, because the significance of an op-ed does not come only from the author, but from the audience as well. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech would have been much less interesting if it had been given at some obscure academic conference, rather than on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in front of an audience of hundreds of thousands. Likewise, John Tierney and Paul Krugman will be less interesting when they are no longer writing to the internet masses, to America and the world, but merely to the narrow, unrepresentative subscriber base of the Times.
GREG DJEREJIAN: “I have to say, reading this kind of risible crap gets me in the mood to say let’s all get behind John Bolton, shall we, and send him to USUN soonest. Particularly the comments of the German Ambassador to Washington, Wolfgang Ischinger, so dripping with condescension, disingenuousness and hypocrisy: ‘we tend to think of ourselves as more experienced in the way societies evolve,’ ‘(t)his is very complicated, ‘(c)hanging the way people think often has to do with religious and cultural issues…Americans think, Let’s solve the problem in the next four years!’ I mean, how many silly, tired, protest-placard stereotypes can the good Ambassador mutter on about in one short interview with the New Yorker?”
RICH, BLOGGY GOODNESS: Don’t miss this week’s Carnival of the Vanities.
BLOGGER SUCKS: So Ann Althouse has set up a backup blog until it starts working again.
PEOPLE SOMETIMES CALL ME A NEOLIBERTARIAN. I’m not sure what that means, besides an effort to link me with neocons. [You don’t look neo-ish! — Ed.]
But if I were a Neo-Libertarian, then wouldn’t InstaPundit be the “Instapundit for the Neolibertarian Network?” I mean, that only makes sense.
I left the Libertarian Party in 2004 when presidential candidate Michael Badnarik asked supporters to wear black on the anniversary of 9/11 “to mourn the deaths of the thousands of people who have died as a result of U.S. government policies”.
Libertarians are often idealistic and myopic, ignoring the real world in pursuit of their goals, unable to compromise their principles. A little pragmatism is called for in the real world.
Yes, although I was a card-carrying member of the Libertarian Party in the 1990s, their pathetic response to the 9/11 attacks caused me to lose confidence in the party. And “pathetic” is putting it kindly.